1) You don’t pray 5 times a day.
So how exactly do you call yourself Muslim? No, please explain. Believing that there is a Creator doesn’t mean you’re a Muslim. Muslim by definition means the one who submits to Allah.
And submitting means fulfilling the five pillars and more. But the other stuff – the hijab, the beard, the sunnahs, the Quran recitation, the sadaqa, the extra fasting – all of those are branches. They aren’t the trunk.
You’re a sinner – yes. Every single person is a sinner. Even Allah told our Muhammad [saw] that the sins on his back were burdening him and so Allah removed them. Who doesn’t sin? But that’s why you have prayer. To remind you of your purpose. To seek forgiveness. To wipe away your sins when you make wudhu.
When the people of Jannah ask the people of Hell what crime they committed. The first thing they say is: we were not of those who prayed.
2) You make up all your prayers at the end of the day.
You can pat yourself on the back for not disregarding the five prayers altogether. But you should also get a reality check.
“Making up” a prayer is valid if it was unintentional. Like sleeping through your fajr alarms. But missing it because of school, because of hanging out, because of studying, because of work – those aren’t unintentional. You are intentionally putting off your prayer. If this was okay to Allah – don’t you think He would have allowed the soldiers to do that?
3) You think it’s okay because you’re a good person.
Fine. Don’t fulfill Allah’s right upon you. Face Him and rationalize that with Him. Tell Him how you got the gift of Islam, and how your mother taught you the words of Surah Fatiha and how your friends all rushed to pray and how His message came and you loved it but praying was too much for you. Tell Him, how He doesn’t know His creation, how He made it too hard for you, how He didn’t answer your duas so you stopped praying. Do you have the courage to step in front of the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, and everything in between, of intellect and nature, the tiny ant and the howling wind. You want to tell the owner of everything that exists and doesn’t exist – that you couldn’t pray? That it was too much of Him to ask from you? After He gives you oxygen and a functioning nose, sight and beautiful ornaments to see, minds to think with, words to communicate with, friends to laugh with, family to find comfort with, a meal a day, and clean water. This Allah of yours that gives and gives, can’t get a few minutes of your day?
There’s a valley in Hell called “ghai”. This valley is so horrific that Hell itself seeks refuge. In Surah Maryam, it says that it’s for people who were cheating with their salaah. So they would purposefully wait until it was the end of duhr time, so they could make duhr and then make asr afterwards. This valley is for people who prayed five times but were cheating with their prayers. Making loopholes, making it easier, making it out of convenience for them. So imagine the people who don’t pray at all. Imagine their place.
In the tafseer of Surah Maryam, Sh. Omar Suleiman mentioned after talking about this ayah that there are scholars who say: “If a person missed their salaah – they would be pulled off the siraat and forced to make salaah in Jahannam” even though it would be worthless at that point.
The first question Allah asks you – has nothing to do with your hijab, or your gender relations, or your wealth. The first thing He asks about are your prayers. If they’re in check, if you pass that first question then the rest of your judgement is easy.
I explain it to children in this manner: Imagine on the first day of school, you make a really good impression on the teacher. And then a month later, you kind of want an extension on a paper, or you want to hand in a homework late, or you made some mistakes. The teacher will probably be lenient with you. Whereas imagine someone made a bad impression the first day. Do you think the teacher will excuse them or even want to excuse them for some small things?
Imagine a book full of circles. Five circles for every day since you’ve hit puberty. Most of the circles would be empty. Because even for those of you who pray – you might not have gotten credit for your prayer. You might have been completely thinking about something else the entire time. You might only get half a circle, or 75% of it filled. Because you got distracted half way or a couple of times. You might have prayed too fast, messing up the words of Allah so you only got a speck on that circle.
So how do you fill those circles? Allah says, “See if my servant has voluntary prayers, complete his obligatory prayers shortage with his voluntary prayers.”
That’s why you do the sunnahs. That’s why you do the nafl. That’s why there’s no such thing as boredom because you can pray. Because none of us can say we have perfect prayers and we’re covered. We can probably pick out a handful of prayers in our lifetime that were with perfect attention and really heartfelt. A handful. Perhaps six times. Almost all of them during times of extreme hardship.
Allah does not wish to burden you. There are studies done that show how a few minutes of meditation can do so much. Prayer is nothing like meditation – but it’s a few minutes away from the regular mess. It repositions your life – if you’re actually thinking about Allah during that time. It tells you – this world is temporary, these hardships will pass, this ease is from Allah, your home is the hereafter, there are bigger problems in the world that what you have on your plate now, and you are important, and you can help, and Allah loves you.
On the day of judgement, everyone will be commanded to make sajda and some people won’t be able to. They will try. But it will be like an iron rod through their spine and they will fall backwards. May we not be humiliated like that. Ameen.
When we say “but Allah didn’t answer my duas even though I prayed all week”: Allah gave you your organs. The very organs you use to sin. The very blessings Allah gave you – you use them to sin. And you have the audacity to say that of Allah? How bold of a slave. How can you be a slave of Allah and say that to your master?
“You gave me my eyes but I’m going to watch haraam. You gave me my beauty but I won’t wear hijab.” — Dr. Farhan Abdul Azeez
Angels pray when you pray. You’re never actually alone. And the places that you’ve prayed on, will all testify for you on the Day of Judgement.
Practical Steps: (Implement them one at a time so it builds up)
 Wudhu – being calm during wudhoo. Someone said it’s like a surgeon that scrubs in. Making sure everything is clean. “When you’re washing your hand, think of all the sins these hands have committed. How many websites it has typed, how many messages backbiting others, how many pictures of haraam it has liked. And hope that the water removes those sins.”
 Preparing when you stand up in prayer that you might die before finishing this prayer. That this was it.
 Choosing Surahs consciously. Not just automatic whatever comes to your tongue – as it’s usually the small surahs. But really picking the ayahs you want to say.
 Being rested in every position. When you move, make yourself completely at peace rested in that position even if it takes a second longer.
 Staying in sujood for as long as possible. Making all the duas you know in the sujood.
 “The quality of your entertainment will affect the quality of your salaah” because if you’re watching a movie a little big rated, your prayer will have remnants of the imagery. And if you’re addicted to shows, you might start remembering the characters while you are praying. So realign your life. What to keep, what to get rid of.
Your goal is to become a believer. The ayahs in the Quran say “Oh you who believe”. The Mu’mens. Not the Muslims. Believers are a different breed of Muslims. They’re more than just five daily rushed prayers because it’s a duty. They’re the ones who hold every ayah to be the truth and they attempt to fulfill every right and every request Allah made to them.
To those who don’t pray five times. To those who haven’t prayed in years. To those who struggle.
This is my plea. Pray.
I beg you to pray. I love you guys so much and I don’t know if I’ll get to Jannah, but if I do, I can’t see anyone I love still by the siraat, swimming in fire. I need you guys in Jannah. And if I don’t get there, I don’t want to see you with me scorching. I don’t want you to be fed blood and pus and crushed bones. I don’t want your head to be hammered, and your feet to be chained.
I need you to pray. I don’t care if you don’t know how to, you’ll figure it out. You’ll youtube it. You’ll relearn it. I don’t care if it’s without focus. Just pray it. At least make the movement. At least bow to the ground so you’ll have that one part of the earth and it can testify. At least bow so that your forehead isn’t burnt while you pay your dues in the fire.
The people in Hell are going to beg to come back for just one sujood. You get to do it now.